A good gaming monitor is an integral part of any gaming setup. It doesn’t matter how ultra yoked your graphics card is if you’re using an ancient TN panel monitor with a lot of ghosting and input lag! Your monitor determines how smooth, and colorful, and responsive your games can actually feel, so it’s important that you get one properly suited for your gaming workloads.
Today, we’re going to go over our picks for best gaming monitor in 2020. There are a ton of great displays to choose from in the current marketplace, thanks to lowering prices and advancing display technology. Whether you just want a cheap monitor that’ll still do the job or an ultra-high-end 4K 144 Hz beast, we have you covered.
Trying to find the best gaming monitor? Look no further: we have you covered. Let’s dive into it!
What is the best gaming monitor (in 2020)?
Note: Certain outside factors may affect price and availability for these monitors.
Screen Size: 21.5-Inch | Resolution: 1920 x 1080 (1080p) | PPI: ~102 | Refresh rate: 75 Hz | VRR: FreeSync and G-Sync | Response time: 4 ms | Panel type: IPS
The Acer B227Q bmiprx is our pick for best budget gaming monitor. Besides the obvious point (it’s fairly cheap), the Acer B227Q is packed with plenty of gaming-centric features. 75 Hz offers a slight but fair boost over the standard 60 Hz, and the addition of FreeSync/G-Sync support ensures a screen-tearing free experience without the need to enable in-game VSync.
The 1080p resolution is standard, but the slightly smaller-than-standard (24 inches) means that it actually offers more perceived clarity and sharpness than most 24-inch gaming monitors. The smaller size does mean that it may be harder to click on smaller targets in FPS games, but otherwise you should see cleaner image quality for only a slight trade in screen size- not too bad, right?
Finally, the B227Q offers an IPS panel rated for 4 ms pixel response time. This should result in minimal ghosting while still providing a viewing experience with better colors and wider viewing angles than is possible with a TN panel.
Verdict: Best Budget Gaming Monitor
#2. ASUS VP249QGR
Screen Size: 23.8-Inch | Resolution: 1920 x 1080 (1080p HD) | PPI: ~92 | Refresh rate: 144 Hz | VRR: FreeSync and G-Sync | Response time: 1 ms | Panel type: IPS
The ASUS VP297QGR is our pick for the best 1080p 144 Hz IPS monitor. As the pick category implies, it bundles in a ton of excellent features, but especially for its price point. 144 Hz offers an ultra-smooth in-game experience that is considered a competitive advantage by many gamers, while an IPS panel offers superior viewing angles and color reproduction when compared to the standard TN panel used by most monitors of past years.
Even the traditional downside of IPS, which is understood to be slower pixel response times, is greatly reduced here thanks to the use of newly-manufactured IPS 1ms panels. No ghosting for you to worry about here!
All this combined with your standard 24-inch screen size and a price in line with 144 Hz TN monitors of yesteryear, and you have a superb choice for most gamers with this display.
Verdict: Best 1080p 144 Hz IPS Monitor
Screen Size: 24.5-Inch | Resolution: 1920 x 1080 (1080p HD) | PPI: ~89 | Refresh rate: 240 Hz | VRR: FreeSync and G-Sync | Response time: 1 ms | Panel type: IPS
Now Alienware is a name that many of you probably wouldn’t expect to see in an article like this one. Don’t those guys just make somewhat overpriced prebuilt gaming PCs and laptops?
Apparently, they’ve made their way into monitors, too- and their entrance is a good one. The Alienware AW2518HF is a stellar 1080p 240 Hz monitor, geared toward competitive gamers who want the best of the best in display technology and performance.
240 Hz? Check. IPS? Check. FreeSync and G-Sync? Check!
Honestly, we’re hard-pressed to criticize this monitor for anything other than its price, but if you’re the kind of hardcore pro gamer it’s aimed that, that may be a worthwhile trade for you.
Verdict: Best 1080p 240 Hz Gaming Monitor
#4. Pixio PX329
Screen Size: 32-Inch | Resolution: 2560 x 1440 (1440p) | PPI: ~91 | Refresh rate: 165 Hz | VRR: FreeSync and G-Sync | Response time: 4 ms | Panel type: VA
The Pixio PX329 is our pick for best 32-Inch gaming monitor, as well as best 1440p 144 Hz monitor under $300. While its size is much larger than the usual 27 inches utilized by 1440p displays, it actually maintains a pleasant 91 PPI, which means it should still look plenty sharp and clear. This is in addition to the benefits that come with a larger screen- especially in games where discerning fine detail is important, like a long-distance FPS.
In addition to the great size and PPI, you also get a 165 Hz panel and FreeSync/G-Sync support for a tearing-free experience. While 165 Hz won’t really make too much of a big difference compared to the initial jump to 144 Hz, it is still nice to have that extra bit of wiggle room for games where you’re able to push super-high framerates. (Note: FreeSync/G-Sync and 165 Hz don’t work simultaneously- you’ll need to lower to 144 Hz to use both, which we recommend highly.) The monitor being so large also makes it an ideal TV replacement for console/controller gaming from farther viewing distances.
The only downside worth noting here is that the monitor uses a VA panel, which isn’t quite as good as a TN or IPS panel. Where a VA panel beats both is in its reproduction of darkly-lit scenes. So if you like playing horror games with a lot of dark and moody lighting, the VA panel may actually be a benefit here. Just be sure to calibrate the colors to your liking so you’ll have a good viewing experience!
Verdict: Best 32-Inch Gaming Monitor / Best 1440p 144 Hz Monitor Under $300
#5. LG 27GL850-B
Screen Size: 27-Inch | Resolution: 2560 x 1440 (1440p) | PPI: ~108 | Refresh rate: 144 Hz | VRR: FreeSync and G-Sync | Response time: 1 ms | Panel type: IPS
The LG 27GL850-B is our pick for best 1440p gaming monitor.
All of the fundamentals are here: 1440p at 27 inches for superb clarity, an IPS 1ms panel, a full 144 Hz with FreeSync and G-Sync support, and superb overall build quality. There’s even HDR support, but truthfully most PC HDR implementations aren’t all that good, so we aren’t recommending it based on that. If you want to use it, though, it is there.
The LG 27GL850-B was one of the most anticipated monitor releases of 2019, and for good reason. Its advertised 1 ms IPS spec promised a world of ghosting-free IPS panels, and since its release, that world has come to be. Now unless you’re using 240 Hz or something, a modern IPS display has no major downsides compared to TN besides a higher price!
For many gamers, the combination of all these features creates what is essentially the perfect gaming monitor. This article is actually being written on this very monitor!
Want a cheaper alternative? Get the LG 27GL83A-B, which cuts HDR but is otherwise the same monitor, but cheaper, if it’s available.
Both of these options unavailable, or too expensive? A worthy alternative with essentially the same specs can be found in the ASUS TUF Gaming VG27AQ.
Verdict: Best 1440p Gaming Monitor
#6. LG 27UD60-B
Screen Size: 27-Inch | Resolution: 3840 x 2160 (4K) | PPI: ~163 | Refresh rate: 60 Hz | VRR: FreeSync and G-Sync | Response time: 5 ms | Panel type: IPS
The LG 27UD60-B is our pick for the best budget 4K gaming monitor. It offers all the fundamentals we’re looking for in a 60 Hz gaming monitor: a superb IPS panel with great viewing angles and color reproduction, and FreeSync/G-Sync support. (We technically want these things on any gaming monitor, but FreeSync/G-Sync is very important to have on a 60 Hz monitor so you aren’t forced to use laggy in-game V-Sync settings.)
Beyond the extras, you also get a superb 4K resolution at 27 inches. This results in an insanely high PPI and perceived fidelity to match. For 4K 60 Hz console or PC gaming, this is an excellent pick. If you’re having trouble reaching a full 4K resolution with your PC specs, we recommend using in-game resolution scaling or targeting custom resolutions like 1800p (3200 x 1800) in order to still enjoy the higher fidelity that comes with a 4K monitor. (Due to pixel scaling, 1440p and resolutions lower than 1080p are likely to look much blurrier than they should on this panel, so keep that in mind!)
Everything being said, we’re hard-pressed to say much negative about this monitor. While it’s only 60 Hz and it is somewhat expensive, that’s to be expected with a 4K display. For a 4K display, it’s still quite cheap, too.
Don’t wanna buy refurbished? Get the LG 27UD58-B instead, but be prepared to spend a little more
Verdict: Best Budget 4K Gaming Monitor / Best 4K 60 Hz Gaming Monitor
Screen Size: 27-Inch | Resolution: 3840 x 2160 (4K) | PPI: ~163 | Refresh rate: 144 Hz | VRR: G-Sync | Response time: 4 ms | Panel type: IPS
Last but not least is the ASUS ROG Swift PG27UQ, which is our pick for best 4K gaming monitor. In addition to the expected FreeSync/G-Sync support and IPS panel we’ve come to expect thus far, we also get a whopping 144 Hz on a 4K display. This is a true no-compromises gaming monitor!
Well…actually there is one thing we need to discuss. It isn’t the fault of the monitor, though.
Due to the limitations of current-gen HDMI and DisplayPort standards, you won’t be able to push 10-bit color at 4K and 144 Hz. You’ll need to drop to 8-bit color in order to achieve those results. For gaming purposes, this shouldn’t be a problem at all, since games aren’t a very color-sensitive workload. For professional workloads, this also shouldn’t really be an issue, since you don’t exactly need to edit video at 144 Hz.
While this isn’t what we’d consider an actual downside, it’s still a technicality that’s worth noting.
Aside from all that, this offers pretty much everything you could want in a gaming monitor. High refresh rate, high resolution, superb image quality…it’s pretty hard to complain here. The only thing holding this monitor back is modern display standards not being quite up to snuff, and honestly, we’re more impressed by that than anything else.
Verdict: Best 4K Gaming Monitor
Don’t mind spending more? The Acer Predator X27 offers improved color gamut and HDR implementation
Best Gaming Monitors: FAQ and Buying Guide
In this section, we’re going to tell you everything you need to know in order to make an informed monitor buying decision.
What is the difference between monitor panel types?
- TN – TN panels are the cheapest and fastest, making them most ideal for high-refresh panels. In recent years, IPS has begun to catch up in terms of speed, but TN still maintains a lead in monitors running at 240 Hz and higher. The downside of TN is poor viewing angles and color reproduction.
- IPS – IPS panels are the most expensive but most color-accurate, making them ideal for professional workloads and good viewing experiences in most scenarios. IPS panels used to be much worse than TN panels in terms of pixel response times and refresh rates, but this has changed greatly over the years, and shouldn’t be a concern for 144 Hz IPS displays. IPS panels have the best viewing angles and color reproduction but suffer from some backlight bleed (making them less ideal for darkly-lit scenes than VA) and higher prices.
- VA – VA panels are an in-between standard in pretty much every way. Not as vivid and colorful as IPS, but not as expensive, either. Still better than TN in terms of color reproduction, but not nearly as strong in terms of speed, especially pixel response time. One objective benefit VA panels offer over all other monitor types is the superior display of dark scenes, due to no issues with backlight bleed. This makes them ideal for consuming media or playing games with moody lighting.
Understanding screen size, resolution, and PPI
Resolution doesn’t tell the full story when it comes to perceived fidelity: you must also consider screen size and viewing distance, too.
Perceived fidelity is best measured with PPI, or pixels per inch. At average monitor viewing distances, your ideal minimum PPI should be around 90 PPI or higher. This falls within the range of your typical 24-inch 1080p monitor. Lower than this, and the image may begin to look blurry or overblown at average viewing distance, which is the last thing you want in any gaming experience.
Fortunately, all of the monitors that we’ve selected in this review come in at a minimum of 90 PPI, and many go even higher! If you’re consulting this guide alone, you don’t need to worry about PPI: all of the selections we’ve chosen should look superb on your desk, at least in terms of resolution.
How refresh rate impacts your gaming experience
Refresh rate refers to the rate at which your monitor can display individual frames, or refreshes. This corresponds closely to in-game framerate, since your refresh rate will determine the maximum framerate your monitor is actually capable of displaying. (ie, a 60 Hz monitor can only display up to 60 FPS, with higher FPS resulting in screen tearing and missed frames).
Many gaming-focused monitors focus on increasing refresh rate from the standard 60 Hz to higher numbers, like 144 Hz or even 240 Hz. This makes a notable difference in perceived fluidity, and is actually considered a competitive advantage in eSports games! If you want to learn more information about how high refresh rates impact your gaming experience, we highly recommend watching the corresponding video from LinusTechTips, embedded below.
Response time is not input lag
Many believe that the “response time” spec seen in marketing materials, product pages, and articles like this one refers to input lag.
It does not. In fact, it has almost nothing to do with input lag.
What response time actually measures is pixel response time, or how fast pixels can shift colors. The lower the number (measured in milliseconds), the less blurry your image will be.
What pixel response time actually corresponds to is unwanted motion blur. If you have a high pixel response time- above 5 ms- then your image will begin to look blurry, especially during fast mouse motion common in FPS gaming. Higher refresh rates also require lower pixel response times to match.
4-5 ms response time is perfect for 60 Hz and even 120-144 Hz gaming, but any higher than that and you’ll start to see some serious unwanted blur, which can inhibit your performance in some games and isn’t pleasant to look at.
1-2 response time is pretty much a hard requirement for 240 Hz and higher refresh rate gaming. All those extra frames need to be as sharp and clear as possible for you to actually benefit from them!
What is the difference between G-Sync and FreeSync?
They’re both VRR (Variable Refresh Rate) technologies that synchronize GPU frames to monitor refreshes, effectively eliminating screen-tearing. They’re named after the software implementation of V-Sync, which does the same thing but at a cost to performance and input latency, which is very undesirable in today’s era of competitive multiplayer games.
Nowadays, FreeSync/G-Sync support is considered a baseline for modern gaming monitors, and we’re inclined to agree. You may have issues if only one of the technologies is supported, though- ie, some older G-Sync monitors will only work properly with Nvidia cards, rather than AMD cards.
Besides that, the only meaningful difference between the two technologies these days is branding. Go with whatever you like!
HDR: yay or nay?
For PC purposes- unless you’re willing to opt for the ultra-high-end Predator X27- nay.
HDR works well in massive 4K TVs because they’re…well, massive. A good HDR implementations requires as many individually-controllable backlighting zones as possible, and that’s much easier to pull off with a larger screen than a smaller one. Smaller PC monitors don’t really stack up in this regard, so their HDR implementations leave a lot to be desired compared to the ones seen on big screen TVs.
If you want good color on your PC monitor, just get one of the high-quality IPS gaming monitors we recommended above, and get proper color calibration for SDR. In most cases, that’ll look a lot better than the poor HDR implementations currently running around in the PC market.
And that’s it!
We exhaustively covered pretty much everything we could think of for this article, because we want to make sure that you get the best possible gaming monitor for your needs.
Leave a comment below and let us know: did you like it? Do you have any questions, or need any help?
Whatever you have to say, we’re here to help and to listen!